So we’ve now had our final fan festival for Final Fantasy XIV, and for heaven’s sake we managed to get one big hype-derailing moment in the middle that you just can’t freaking ignore. And it’s not even a case wherein the developers should have known better because we already know that they do.
No one wanted this: Hrothgar, Viera, and gender-locking
Let me make something very clear. This whole gender-locking thing? Is bad. If there ever comes a point when it sounds like what I’m saying is that it’s completely fine that Hrothgar and Viera are gender-locked, that is not what I’m saying. I dislike this. I am unhappy with this. It is a bad decision that is not serving anyone, and I have to do a lot of theorizing to come up with a possible reason why this might have been a reasonable decision.
Do I have a theory? Yes. I don’t want to put it in this column, though; look for that in a couple of weeks. Today, I want to focus on the fact that the only reactions to this were either “negative” or “not personally affected,” and that in and of itself should be telling. This was a bad choice, and the only real defenses about it are that it was the least-bad choice out of a series of bad choices.
Worst over, this is re-making a bad choice that the developers already learned from. They already knew this was a bad decision. One part of the reboot was fixing this bad decision. So it doesn’t even have the usual excuse of not knowing how players would react. They had to expect backlash about it.
That having been said, while it’s something that upset me and still upsets me, it’s something that also numbed out pretty quickly. Yes, this is a bad decision, but it’s a bad decision that is hardly unique to FFXIV and it’s a far lesser sin, to me, than gender-locking classes. It’s bad and it’s a decision that should not have been made. I am disappointed that this is the route they’ve decided to go. Let’s hope that the team takes the feedback to heart; for now, I’m moving on.
Balance is not what you think: Dancer, the ranged DPS
Here’s a case wherein lots of people guessed right about the thing (new job is dancer) and wrong about the role. And here’s a case where disappointment actually gave way to being on-board once I read the developers’ rationale.
Specifically, the reasoning was that ranged DPS as a role had two options. Every other distinct role in the game had at least three choices even before the new jobs; adding a new tank allows for a better differentiation between the tanks, while adding a new healer doesn’t necessarily allow for more definition there. And… yeah, that’s accurate. We do have a paucity of ranged DPS options, this is something we’d need at some point, and adding it here and now is probably not the wild unbalancing that people are predicting any more than adding two more DPS during Stormblood ruined everything.
It helps that Dancer actually looks, well, really neat. I’m a sucker for both dual-wielding and thrown weapons in general, and a version of Dancer doing its weird twirling and such makes more sense than the previous MMO using dancer as a self-healing Monk-with-daggers. It looks like fun, and adding another ranged DPS is a good thing for Bard and Machinist as well.
Am I sad that we don’t get a new healer? Yes, a bit. But the game has already sort of set us up to have at least two more expansions down the pipeline to bring us to the “traditional” level cap, and this definitely does not feel like the last expansion. Unless we get five new jobs with every expansion someone’s always going to be a bit left out in the cold, and while healing is a very important party role, the health of the game is not about any one role.
That being said, of course… yeah, if we don’t get another healer in the next expansion there’s going to be Issues. Best start planning for that now, folks.
Of course this isn’t Garlemald
I’d been saying before the expansion reveal that we weren’t going to Ilsabard to take down the Empire. Clearly, I was right. I was not right about where we are going, though; instead of another continent, we’re actually world-hopping. And while there’s some stuff that mildly troubles me about this, it really comes down to the fact that I want to explore every part of the planet we’re already on, and I doubt at this point that we’ll have enough time to explore the New World, Meracydia, Ilsabard, and other related points.
But the actual First and Norvrandt? Oh, this looks like fun.
For one thing, it’s definitely got that fun alternate universe feel, but unlike Wings of the Goddess where it felt like a quick asset turnaround rather than something that was carefully considered, here it feels like the similarities are there to help the players ground themselves instead. And we have enough space, with six zones, to see similar-but-different versions of all the major regions in Eorzea – we know Lakeland is Mor Dhona, Il Mheg seems like it’s Coerthas, Rak’tika Greatwood instead of the Black Shroud, Amh Araeng could easily be Thanalan, and Kholusia could be Gyr Abania. Throw in La Noscea (or perhaps just the areas around Eulmore) and you’ve got a chance to play with everything.
It also serves to escalate the conflict without forcing us into an unbroken spiral upward. The things happening on the First definitely influence the Source, and it’s a chance to learn more of the Ascians, but it forces us onto the back foot and pushes us into unfamiliar territory.
I want to learn more about this. I want to find out more of this realm’s history and to find out what all of the jobs are called there (we know that Black Mage is Magus and Paladin is Knight, for example), to discover the different ways all of these various races have carved out different niches for themselves in a very different world. (My first thought is that Mystel are the “mercantile” race while Viis may be the “feral” one; perhaps the Galdjent settled chiefly in Amh Araeng this time?) I want to see how the place is played up as familiar yet different, carving out new spaces and introducing us to a greater understanding of the cosmology.
This is something that’s been set up for a very long time in subtle background elements. And while I do love the idea of seeing more of our world, this is hardly an out-of-nowhere swerve; it’s just one that never seemed like it would get center stage. Instead, we’re going to a land of sickly, constant light cloying against everything.
There’s lots more to speculate on there… but I’ll have to save that for the future because next week will be a recap of the Main Scenario with the launch of the story’s conclusion. The week after that? Yes, the gender-locking theory. Feedback is welcome until then in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.